(17 verses, 2:15 to read)
What I am about to READ:
Paul corrects the false teachings about Christ’s return that were swirling around the church in Thessalonica.
MARK & LEARN
1-2: The church in Thessalonica had received some false teaching about the Parousia – the second coming of Christ. They seem to have gone a bit crazy over the news that Christ has already come; the Parousia was happening right then and there! Paul and his companions absolutely dismiss what was said falsely “by a spirit or a spoken word or a letter.” Paul reminds them to be sober-minded and not get rattled over every wind of false teaching that blows by. The Thessalonians knew the truth, for Paul had spoken it to them (v. 5). They need not be shaken, but to stand firm in the truth they has been taught.
3-4: A prophecy! Two things will happen before the return of Christ:
1.) The “rebellion” or the “apostasy.” This will happen within the Church, otherwise it would not be an “apostasy.”
2.) The man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) will be revealed. This man (not Satan) will reveal himself as the Antichrist by seating himself in God’s own sanctuary (God’s Church). He will prop himself up “proclaiming to be God.”
5: This was nothing new. Paul was simply restating what he had already taught.
6-7: Much like Old Testament prophecies, Paul did not know or claim to know dates and times. God revealed to him (directly) the events and figures involved, but dates and even intervals of time were not revealed. At the time Paul and the Thessalonians knew the thing that was “restraining” or “holding up” the revelation of the man of lawlessness. They didn’t know when, but whoever was restraining the “time” would eventually be “out of the way.” Only then would the Antichrist be revealed. Even so, the lawlessness that the Antichrist will eventually rule was already at work.
8: The man of lawlessness presents no match for Jesus Christ. Christ will kill the Antichrist with the breath of his mouth (Christ’s word). Ultimately, at Christ’s return He will “bring [him] to nothing.”
9-10: The man of lawlessness is the result of Satan’s activity. Satan will use his sharpest weapon…lies! When the great rebellion/apostasy occurs people will exchange the truth for lies. They will refuse to love the saving truth: Jesus Christ alone saves. The saving Gospel was presented to them that they might accept it, but the refuse. And for that they are guilty and will perish.
11-12: As punishment for their refusal to love the saving truth, God Himself “sends them a strong delusion.” That’s right! God is in control here! Essentially, God gives them what they want. He hands them over to their coveted lie: not believing the truth but finding pleasure in unrighteousness.
13-17: Once again, Paul thanks God for the saving faith given to the Thessalonians (much like he did in 1 Thessalonians 1). Here Paul proclaims the truth: “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In contrast to the rebels/apostates, the Thessalonians are encouraged to stand firm in the truth. “Stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” In the closing this section Paul speaks Christ’s certain comfort to His people.
Dear believers, you don’t need to be shaken in mind or alarmed at the thought of Christ’s return. For God’s word of comfort (vv. 13-17) are meant for you! God has called you by His Gospel. Christ has redeemed you by His death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit has sanctified you through the word and sacraments. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
Post Script: Almost 2,000 years have passed since Paul made this prophecy. I have purposefully held off making any suggestions as to the fulfillment of these prophecies. Obviously the Parousia has not come…yet. But, have the events (which Paul says will take place before Christ’s return) already occurred? Or are we still waiting for their fulfillment? Has the rebellion/apostasy occurred? Has the man of lawlessness been revealed? HINT: Luther (included the Lutheran Confessions) clearly professed the pope and the papal office to be the Antichrist based on 2 Thessalonians 2 (http://bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php#article4). I encourage you to think about what might be the fulfillment of these prophesies. In order to encourage discussion, I invite you to offer comments on our Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/
Pastor Kevin Zellers, Jr.